the Disillusioned kid: In Denial?
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In Denial?

Our Glorious Leader is collating assorted thoughts on the incaceration of "controversial historian" (read: inveterate racist shit) David Irving. I suppose therefore I'm duty bound to offer my three-pennies worth.

I don't doubt for a minute that it's tempting to revel in the schadenfreude, to gloat even. It makes a nice change to see the state throwing its weight in with the light side for once. The problem is, of course, that it could easily swing back the other way and turn the very same powers on us. This will hardly be a new argument to long-time readers, as it's one I've made previously. Not being the sort who likes repeating himself I'll just point you in the direction of what I said then. It's really very good.

It's worth emphasising, however, that relying on the state to challenge racism is a risky strategy even in itself. Consider the recent trials of Islamist nutjob Abu Hamza and fascist onanist Nick Griffin. Both were dragged into court for inciting racial hatred yet only the former was convicted (although Griff and co-defendant Mark Collett are to face a retrial). Does anybody seriously believe that Griff is any less congenitally racist than Hammy? That Griff's skin colour and sharp suit didn't count in his favour? That the greater media focus on Hammy wasn't motivated by the fact he was a Muslim whacko rather than a white fucktard?

It says a lot about the intellectual climate in the west that concerns about "free speech" only seem to arise when right wingers find themselves vilified for not cloaking their prejudices in appropriately diplomatic terms (e.g. Irving, Robert Kilroy-Silk, those cartoons). The voicelesness of disenfranchised minorities not being a suitable topic for polite conversation. That said, in lieu of a serious thoroughgoing positive freedom of speech it behoves those of us concerned about building a better world to defend what negative freedom of speech we have if only because those threatening the status quo are likely to be the first to find that freedom threatened. Unfortunately, that neccesarily entails opposing measures which cause difficulties for the kind of people we quite rightly count amongst our enemies.

None of the foregoing should be taken as a suggestion that there is a serious debate to be had about whether the Holocaust happened: there isn't. It doesn't follow, however, that we should lock up those who promulgate such reidiculous - and politically loaded views. We wouldn't lock up members of the Flat Earth Society, but neither would be compelled to engage with them in serious "debate." The idea that there is such a debate to be had between "Holocaust revisionists" and serious historians is one of the most effective memes in the arsenal of those promote the idea that the Holocaust never happened (cf the claims of a "debate" between proponents of "intelligent design" and credible scientists) we shouldn't play along with their racist parlour games.

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